Butler finishes $2 million addition 

The new addition will be open to the public April 16. Photo by Jessica Stamp / The Jambar

By Jessica Stamp

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated since its initial publication. 

Original Publication Date: April 7, 2023

The Butler Institute of American Art will reveal its new addition, the Vincent and Phyllis Bacon Grand Gallery, April 15 in a private opening.

Robert Buchanan, the additions architect, designed the new $2 million section. The addition is 3,810 square feet with two stories and high ceilings.

Another gallery will be below the Vincent and Phyllis Bacon Grand Gallery, which will display the Max and Cil Drain collection.

Susan Carfano, assistant director at the Butler Institute of American Art, said the new addition to Butler is to be used for taller pieces of art. 

“We didn’t have high walls to display really large scale works which Vincent and Phyllis Bacon Grand Gallery provides,” Carfano said. “There’s an additional gallery below Grand Gallery and it will house the Max and Cil Drain collection. It’s a beautiful space and it’s very usable.”

Carfano also said the wall facing Wick Avenue will be lit up at night so bypassers get to see the mural displayed. 

“We have a 14-by-20 foot ceramic mural by Pierre Soulages that was probably the main emphasis at the addition and is on the wall facing Wick Avenue,” Carfano said. “It’s lit at night so people going on Wick during the nighttime can see it and you can also see it during the day if you’re walking through campus.” 

The opening exhibition will also include several paintings by Paul Jenkins, an American painter who focuses on abstract expressionism.

Louis Zona, executive director at the Butler Institute of American Art, said the Butler has 22,000 pieces and there isn’t enough space to showcase them all.

“We have a storage issue. We have 22,000 artworks in our collection and so we can’t display all the work all the time so we need to store away major works of art until they become of interest to us for a special exhibition,” Zona said. “That’s the key reason but also we have oversized works of art, some very large works of art with ceilings too low to accommodate these works on display.”

Zona said the new space will allow for other works based on technology.

“We will be showing different kinds of art in there including art based on technology … and now we’re going to be able to display it because we have a lot more space,” Zona said. “We have 100 pieces by artists who use technology and we’re going to be able to display most of them.”

The Butler will also have a public opening from 12-4 p.m. April 16.